I saw online that a strong storm rolled through Florida and was on its way to the Bahamas so I knew any sort of outdoor activities were out of the question. I also knew that I wanted to be close to town when it arrived so I wasn’t stuck 20 minutes away from food, gas, wifi, etc. #IslandProblems. Visions of my first catastrophic trip were dancing in my brain. So I decided to watch it from Club Peace and Plenty, which is right in the heart of downtown near all of the amenities I might need. The storm did not disappoint and barreled through in an instant but lasting several hours. Strong winds and heavy downpours struck quickly and viciously. Contrary to what you might think, Exuma is a fairly arid island and doesn’t get nearly as much rain as they would like. So the locals were eager to get this much needed precipitation. I watched from the hotel restaurant as a sailboat anchored right off the coast violently rocked in the waves and started to drag anchor towards the hotel. Fortunately, someone was on board and was able to get it under control, albeit, in the middle of a lightning storm. The last place I would want to be. It was a beautiful yet powerful storm and I was glad to be accompanied by several other people to ride it out.
Rewind to my drive into town. It is common for residents to hitch rides from perfect strangers and the converse is true as well. If you are visiting the island and have a car, you should have no concern about picking up someone off the side of the road. It is protocol here. On my way into town to watch the storm, I picked up Reno. Reno was an early 20 something year old kid on his way to Georgetown to look for a job. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Hey, how’s it going?
Reno: Hello ma’am, I am good, how are you?
Me: Great thanks, where are you headed?
Reno: I’m going to Georgetown ma’am. I need to look for a job.
Me: Oh yeah? What kind of job are you looking for?
Reno: Landscaping or something similar. Or something in carpentry.
Me: Cool. How exactly do you look for a job? Do you just talk to people or go into businesses or what?
Reno: Yes ma’am. I go into business and see if they need help. I am only skilled in two different things.
Me: Oh really, what are those?
Reno: I am a good barber and I can rap.
Me: Rap! Oh wow nice.
Reno: Yes ma’am. I can. I’m pretty good. But I just came back from BTVI.
Me: What’s that?
Reno: It is a trade school where you learn how to do carpentry, construction, and stuff like that.
Me: Oh I see, well that’s neat. And how long is that?
Reno: It is a year. I didn’t finish because I couldn’t pay for the rest but I think I learned everything I needed to know.
Me: Well, there’s no better experience than actually doing the work. You can learn all about different trades but until you actually do the work and/or learn from someone else, it doesn’t do you much good.
Reno: Yes ma’am. I have to apply it to make sense of it. So I need to get a job so I can apply those lessons I learned in school. My faith in God is so strong that I know something good will come out of this. I have to work hard to prove myself and then work should come much easier.
Me: That’s very true. Is landscaping what you aspire to do?
Reno: Well no, I have always wanted to be a customs officer or work for the Royal Defence Force of the Bahamas. Stopping all the drugs and drug crimes.
Me: Oh that’s cool. Well you can always work towards that.
Reno: Yes ma’am. I will.
….some other small talk ensues…..
Reno: You can stop right here ma’am.
Me: Ok great, well you have an awesome day.
Reno: You too ma’am. What is your name? (reaches out to shake)
Me: My name is Airie, and yours?
Reno: My name is Reno. I will not forget you. Thank you so much ma’am.
I teared up as he walked away, just as I am as I write this. So kind, so respectful, so grateful, and warmth to my soul. The people are amazing. Do they have flaws? Absolutely, we all do. Every one of us. But these types of experiences and conversations really make you think about what is important. He dreams of being a customs officer. Because that’s all he knows. How many Americans dream of being a customs officer? He was proud to be a good barber and a good rapper and had no shame in telling me that. It is a simple life in the islands. A life where stress is based on the fundamental needs of life; safety and security, food, and shelter. Stress is not meeting a work deadline, stress is not social media backlash, stress is not getting a scratch on your car hood, or breaking a nail. It’s a perspective that we all need to experience on a regular basis to keep us grounded, to keep us grateful for what we have, and to truly differentiate between necessity and desire.
Allow me to take a moment to show some of the pictures of my residence for the last week. It is available for sale and as a vacation rental. You’ll never ever want to leave. And why would you need to? If you would like information about it, I am happy to provide details.